Monday, August 22, 2011
Top 10 Things I Love About … Canyon Ranch
You suck. I’m moving to Canyon Ranch forever.
I would have loved to have written this blog FROM Canyon Ranch, but, Mesdames et Messieurs, there was no time. The Canyon Ranch day is so action-packed, that there was barely enough time to stop and eat or smell the roses (literally, they have flowers all over the property). In the “action” category, however, I do include a visit to the steam room, massage and restorative yoga class… yes, life is rough at Canyon Ranch. Life at Canyon Ranch is not, in fact, life. It is instead a wonderful escape from life. Canyon Ranch boasts locations across America – in Tucson and in Miami, but I opted for the East Coast version in Lenox, Massachusetts. The self-described “healthy escape in the Berkshires” is an all-inclusive spa in picturesque New England complete with an endless list of indoor and outdoor activities, cultural breaks and health programs. Unlike many spas in the US, Canyon Ranch mixes Eastern and Western medicines and integrates untraditional health values from India, China and across the globe. I must admit that, before I arrived, I expected Canyon Ranch to be a large spa complete with women walking around in robes with green face masks and people lounging around in arm chairs on grassy knolls. In fact, Canyon Ranch in Lenox is anything but that (though I admit to enjoying a brisk walk along the grass in my robe after a facial, please don’t judge.) I visited the location with my parents and, though we are all different ages with different health concerns and likes and dislikes, we all found ways to keep busy there, while finding time to enjoy each other’s company too. I have decided that I am retiring and moving to Canyon Ranch, so au revoir to Lafleurdeparis blog. Just kidding, I may need to invent a billion-dollar app for the iphone before I can do that so, until then, I’ll share with you my favorite parts of this petit escape in the Berkshires.
1 The Tata Harper facial
My skin just called to say she’s (yes, my skin is sensitive and delicate – it’s clearly female) quite happy with Canyon Ranch as well. I enjoyed an all-new treatment at “The Ranch” (that’s insider slang for Canyon Ranch Resort Lenox, by the way as I noticed that all of the staff referred to it that way) – the Tata Harper facial. Tata Harper is an all-natural cosmetics line. It’s like throwing a salad into your face. A delicious and wonderful-smelling salad that is. My skin feels like a baby’s butt. An ORGANIC baby’s butt at that. Tata’s (yes, Tata Harper is in fact a real person, farmer and chemist) non-toxic skincare line was researched and grown on her 1,200-acre farm in Vermont where she uses 100% natural ingredients like Narcissus bulbs, Witch Hazel, Gotu Kola and Neroli. What? You haven’t heard of those ingredients? Don’t worry, neither have I, but I can confirm that we should all remember their names because they work wonders on the skin. Plus, there’s a cheat sheet for all of the ingredients and their healing properties on Tata Harper’s website tataharperskincare.com. My skin was so smooth when I left the facial that when I put my head onto my pillow, I slipped and fell out of bed. (Not really, but I hope that image made a few of you laugh. It worked for me.) The Tata Harper facial at Canyon Ranch uses several products from the body and facial line and also includes paraffin wax on the hands and a massage of the head, neck, shoulders and arms. I was impressed by my esthetician’s vast knowledge of all things related to my epidermis and felt like I was in good hands (good thing because my hands were coated in wax and surrounded by thick plastic gloves – I looked like cookie monster at a wax museum.) What’s great is that all of the products aren’t just for fancy facials – they were designed for everyday use by everyday women. Well, wealthier everyday women because the products aren’t cheap, but they are pretty much the same price of similar high-end cosmetic products and, considering they are also completely organic and natural, makes them an even better deal. I particularly liked the rebuilding moisturizer, the resurfacing mask and the hydrating floral essence which is like a breath of fresh air sprayed to the face any time of day and available in a small enough container to keep in your purse anytime. TH also makes a great body lotion and oil plus roll-on essential oils for stress, irritability and bedtime aid which, if we all had help with our stress, irritability and sleep, we’d be absolutely gorgeous, right? Great idea, Tata. So “Tata” for now, I am applying some roll-on bedtime treatment oils and a resurfacing mask before I head to sleep to dream about another Canyon Ranch Tata Harper facial.
2 The staff
The Canyon Ranch staff are friendly without being didactic or overbearing.
From ayurveda, yoga or yamuna foot fitness with Mark to a work-out or yoga with Faith or Lori to a talk from the wise Dr Cindy Geyer all the way up to CR Lenox’ top dog, the smiley and accessible Reggie Cooper, the staff at CR really complete the experience. No one hovers over you, but they are always attentive. While Canyon Ranch may be a hot destination spot for real celebrities, everyone is made to feel like a celebrity when they go there. Everyone is a VIP (Very Important Paying customer, that is). Want a private yoga session tailored to your Ayurvedic dosha (if you don’t know what that is, you obviously need a trip to Canyon Ranch) or some herbs for your Chinese ying or yang? Your wish is their command.
3 Sondra Rose
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… I swear, Sondra Rose is, in fact Superwoman disguised as a 74 year-old philanthropist from Long Island. Rose was just named Woman of the Year by the Long Island Leukemia and Lymphoma Society earlier this year and continues to fight for a cause very close to her heart. She started this fundraising program when her close friend's first grandchild was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at just 11 months old. She raised $200,000 for DRIF and JDRF between 2000 and 2008. Rose’s grandson was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008 and Rose hasn’t stopped campaigning for funding to research the disease. Rose has raised more than $180,000 for LLS and also raises money for the Children's Cancer Fund and Diabetes Research Institute Foundation. Meanwhile, Rose has been on the move. She’s walked 10 half-marathons, will enter in the New York Marathon this year, has completed a 30-mile bike ride and hiked in the Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. Every time I ran into Rose at Canyon Ranch, she was finishing one activity and heading to another, always stopping of course for a friendly conversation with everyone she met along the way. The modest Rose expects nothing in return for her efforts, only to see her grandson’s smiling face and help other children with similar ailments. Rose is also a role model for anyone who wants to kick their health into high gear even when they think it’s too late in the game. “You’re never too old to change your life,” Rose says. Rose is also known as the “Spa Maven” and organizes trips to Canyon Ranch (and also Miraval and Mii amo spas in Arizona) at reduced rates, as long as you donate to her charity. Everyone wins, most importantly, the children who will benefit from your donations. If you’re interested, check out the Spa Maven site: http://spamaventrips.com/
4 Yoga for Athletes
Yes, I, Rebecca Leffler, completed a class (actually two) with the title “for athletes.” (Stop laughing, I can hear you.) Canyon Ranch’s “yoga for athletes” is neither for yogis nor for athletes, and, at the same time, designed for both groups. Huh? Did I do too many downward dogs and headstands you may be wondering? This class challenges both yogis and athletes alike and is a great way to move those most hard-to-stretch muscles.
5 Unlimited food
Yes, I’m American – I get excited about the idea of all-you-can-eat dining. It’s in my genes. At Canyon Ranch, all of the meals are included and, while there is a daily and nightly salad bar buffet-style, feel free to order anything you’d like off of the sit-down menu. Don’t like the night’s dinner options? Make up your own. Or if you DO like the night’s dinner options, feel free to order 17 portions. (You’ll even be able to add up the calories – the calorie count is listed on the menu for each item.) No judgement. The portion sizes are so small that you may indeed need 17 portions to satiate your appetite after 10 hours of aerobics, paddleboarding, hiking and pilates, but it’s fun to have the freedom to try several things at once.
6 The Inhalation room
Don’t worry, everything you inhale in this room is indeed legal, though it does leave you feeling quite euphoric and, if you stay too long, a bit lightheaded and dizzy. The inhalation room is like a steam room, only better and features eucalyptus spray that is great for the sinuses. I wanted to stay forever.
7 Trying things I’ve never done before
“It’s not like you go there and languish. There are just numerous options every day. And then when you want to relax you have the spa. It’s all just there for you basically.” – Dad Leffler
I went for a 7-mile bike ride along the country roads and into the quaint town of Lenox, mastered Tai Chi, did a pilates workout and learned about longevity and digestive health, all before lunch. The possibilities really are endless.
8 The Train concert at Tanglewood
Marry Me, Train! Sorry, I meant, Marry Me BY Train – it’s a great song. Though I confess that after seeing their concert at Tanglewood, I would say “I Do” to this rock band trio. Patrick Monahan has such an incredible energy and he and the group livened up the stage and the large audience from start to finish, even coming back at the end for an encore. The band played all of their familiar favorites like “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Save Me, San Francisco” and “Marry Me,” but also added in some old classics from Blondie and Rihanna. Tanglewood is an absolutely beautiful setting and the night of the concert was sunny and beautiful. Large crowds gathered outside on the vast lawn – people of all ages from elderly couples to small children running around. Many people brought picnic dinners and sat in lounge chairs drinking wine. Others opted for seats inside of the main concert tent near the stage. The New England outdoor setting combined with the addictive music made for a high-energy and enjoyable evening. The best part? Canyon Ranch provides transportation to and from the Tanglewood lawn complete with lounge chairs, blankets, bug spray and, if you want, a picnic dinner. While I was sad for the show to end, Train reminded us that “This Aint Goodbye.” I hope to see them again soon!
9 Tai Chi / meditation
Din boo. Sui boo. Ma boo. Gun boo. Huh? Boo who?
I may not yet be a Master of the ancient Chinese martial art of Tai Chi, but I’m hooked. I tested out the “outdoor morning tai chi” class at Canyon Ranch and it was such a perfect way to start the day. The added bonus was the lovely morning summer weather, but the de-stress and strength training factors can be accessed at any time in any season. While the poses sound like a jungle scene – “pouncing tiger” or “high horse” or “crane” – they are extremely therapeutic and relaxing, while also muscle-building. Just call me Master Lafleur.
10 Trail bars
Almond butter and brown rice syrup hold puffed rice and millet together with quinoa flakes, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for an energizing, protein-packed snack known as the Canyon Ranch Trail Bar. Even I may be persuaded to go hiking if I can pack these addictive trail bars. Did I mention that 7-mile bike ride? I think I’m ready for the Tour de France. Pass the trail bars!